I urge you to read no further if the topic of periods is not something you wish to venture boldly into at this present moment. Not that it is disgusting (I would describe it more as a tad grim from time to time), or something we shouldn’t discuss, or a basis of knowledge only available to females – but I consider this topic vaguely under the branch of TMI, and what do you know, it’s time for the TMI of the Month. Let the bloodbath begin. (No further blood references will follow, I promise.)
I’m just going to discuss my “routine” of sorts, in short the products and tools (tools? maybe not) that I use during my time of the month. Perhaps this is a strange thing to discuss, but the main idea is that I am leaning more towards processes that are better for my body and better for the world, and I would like to urge others to think about this. I feel that these days there is a heavy focus on the disposability of products, that the evidence of our reproductive systems doing their thing must be concealed. Which is fair enough, and I generally operate on a 60% versus 40% balance, the former being looking towards reusable products and the latter being disposable, organic products. It’s entirely down to personal preference, as above all I think we can all agree that a certain degree of comfort is sought when you’re struggling with cramps and headaches. Similarly we are not always able to stick to reusable products without compromising hygiene or general transportation, for instance if you’re travelling. The cost is also a significant factor, as for a lot of women these products are required on a monthly basis – though I won’t delve into menstrual products being taxed as non-essential luxury items in the UK, as I feel that’s for another post. What I want to focus on is the products I currently use, listed in no particular order. The frequency of use depends entirely on my circumstances at the time. All of these have been researched and collated over time, as this is (clearly) important to me, and I should specify that since committing to the contraceptive pill I have been largely blessed with slightly lighter and less painful periods than before.
- Organic Tampons (disposable)
I have a weird relationship with tampons because at their very core, I am not keen on the idea of putting something absorbent into a part of my body that is not designed to be dry! And yet I have relied on them for so many years simply because they make me feel so much cleaner, if that makes any sense? It feels strange to continuously buy something that I don’t necessarily agree with, but they are admittedly so easy and quick to use, that it’s hard for me to “give them up”. So as a transitional move, in recent months I have discovered two companies that promote the idea of a ‘chemical-free’ period. There are obviously many more, but these are the ones I have purchased from. The first is Cottons, based in Melbourne (I buy mine from Boots), who have traded bleaching for oxygen-cleansing and push the idea of finding out what your tampons are made with, and the impact they can have on your body. The second is TOTM, who offer similarly biodegradable, 100% cotton, chemical-free and hypoallergenic products, and they also offer one-off purchases or a subscription service if it suits you, delivered in packages slender enough to fit through your letterbox. They are admittedly pricey at roughly £2.95 a box for 14 non-applicator tampons, though UK delivery is free if you buy two products or more. My usage of tampons has become less of a reliance, and more of a “I’m going out for the day, and things are getting heavy – I want a quick and easy way of addressing my period, with minimal stress on my body.”
2. Menstrual Pads (reusable)
At the risk of TMI-ing all over the place, I really hate disposable pads, they just do not feel comfortable to me, in the slightest. So I did a little research, and discovered reusable menstrual pads. The two companies I have purchased from over the years are Honour Your Flow, and Luxury Moon. They both supply organic cloth/wool/fleece pads of all shapes, sizes and absorbencies, which are, if possible, made from fairly traded natural materials. To me they are extremely comfortable, never itchy or prone to shifting around, and obviously easy to use. They are expensive, but definitely an investment, as they last for as long as you take care of them. The cleaning process is something that may scare people away, but it doesn’t bother me at all. There’s always the option of just putting them in the washing machine (avoiding fabric conditioner as it meddles with the absorbency), and the tumble dryer fluffs them up a treat. I don’t really need any of the heavy-flow ones, but it was a very easy transition to switch from small disposable liners to these. Honour Your Flow also sell wash bags and “moon purses” (for ease of transportation), reusable make-up pads which are fab, and all sorts of other goodies. If you don’t approve of them, at the very least you can say these pads are kind of hippy-cute? Insert “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die” reference.
3. Mooncup (reusable)
Like all of the best things in life, I first discovered the dawning age of the Mooncup on the back of a toilet cubicle door. At the age of 19, I had never heard of such witchcraft in all my days. I finally plucked up the courage to try one about a year later, and I am still on the fence about whether I can commit to it more. First of all, it’s intimidating. Second of all, I was in a bit of a blind panic as to whether I was ever going to be able to retrieve it once it had gone past the point of no return. In assessment of these worries post-trials, I can say that there is a bit of a learning curve, or at least there was for me. But once this is mastered (after a very long hiatus I’m willing to try it again), it is a fantastic product. To distil everything that we have established necessary during our menstrual cycle into one handy-dandy silicone product, well that’s just lovely isn’t it? It lasts for years and years, and the cleaning process is very simple – you can either boil it for 5-7ish minutes (though I recommend buying a small pan specifically for this process!), or you put it in a sterilising solution such as Milton’s tablets (generally used for baby bottles and such.) The only major flaw for me is the pressure of being in a public toilet, it’s a changing process that I wouldn’t want to rush or be anything less than highly sanitised. But again, we all have different preferences and our needs can change, so I would definitely consider it if you want to look after yourself, and the environment.
I would like to say before closing that I am by no means an expert in any of these products, nor a purveyor of wholly organic lifestyles. This is just my personal experience, and it is subject to adjustment. Does anybody have a rave product review or recommendation on this topic?
Contrary-wise to specifically menstrual-based products, I think above all to establish a comfortable setting for myself on a particularly painful day, I like to indulge in one of my favourite comfort foods, that is vanilla shortbread dipped in Nutella, which is the buttery biscuit base of heaven. And if that’s all you take from this post (if you have read this far), well then I urge you to treat yo ‘self.
Until next time (of the month!)